Computational Thinking

Curricula focused on problem-solving, coding, and STEM subjects help prepare students to address future challenges. To give students the best start possible, schools are looking to help them develop a toolkit of technical skills.

92%of future jobs around the world will require digital skills.

ZDNet, 2018

93%of American teachers believe computational thinking in K-12 involves using heuristics and understanding algorithms.

Pew Research Center, 2018

40%of new students in Germany are enrolling in STEM degrees, as these areas are seen as “safe” career paths.

U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2012

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Computational Thinking

A conversation with Chris Stephenson

Head of Computer Science Education Strategy, Google

Chris Stephenson

How would you expect that computer science education will change over the next decade? How will it look different than today?

Computer science is currently undergoing tremendous change and I believe this trend will continue and likely accelerate. The last ten years have been typified by huge improvements to CS learning environments as exemplified in the growth of block-based programming. Perhaps more importantly, the focus on truly engaging all students has put a new emphasis on not just what we teach, but how we teach. I believe that this shift to more research-driven engaging teaching practices/methodologies will continue to improve our ability to engage and inspire all students. So ten years from now I would like to think that we will be providing all students with the computing skills they need to thrive in the global economy.

What does it look like when computer science and STEM education is going well? What does it look like when those efforts are ineffective?

Like any classroom, a successful computer science or STEM classroom is a place where all students are deeply engaged in genuine learning and where every student, regardless of her or his ultimate career pathway, is learning how to solve problems and express solutions using real-world tools and strategies. For computer science and STEM in particular, we know things are going decidedly less well when the children in the seats do not reflect the diversity of the larger population. In these cases, our greatest challenge is about who is not in the room, which students are not having these opportunities and cannot see themselves succeeding in these disciplines in the future.

What foundational pieces must be in place for effective computer science education in schools?

I believe that computer science is no different than any other academic discipline when it comes to what is fundamental. First and foremost, well-trained teachers who demonstrate an excitement for the discipline and teach in a way that is relevant and engaging to all students. Students who are involved, inspired, and learning. And finally, teacher and students who have access to the tools that support teaching and learning in the discipline.

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